Thursday, October 23, 2008

Maine: New England's Wisconsin

I had to drive up to Bar Harbor to check on a few HU's (that's housing units for the non-Nielsen readers).  It ended up being some extremely easy work, just drive up there, make sure the houses are still standing, eat lobster and leave.  
Acadia National Park fell right in the middle of my survey.  It's a beautiful area but there are key indicators that reveal this area is indeed a tourist trap.
A massive ship docked in the harbor is the first sign this place is gonna be chock full of slow moving, photo snapping, T shirt buying tourists.  
The cruise tender boats shuttle the elderly vacationers to buy trinkets and to ask why I'm dining alone.  After I explaining my job I then hear them out on what their favorite shows were, why they think the shows left, and what can be done to get them back.  
The area was amazing but without the time to really experience the place I'm going to have to add it to the list of sights I've visited but haven't really explored.  I need to go back, hopefully before I'm a aging retiree who lives for souvenirs and early bird specials.

Monday, October 13, 2008

S.S. United States

While driving across South Philly I saw two huge red stacks of Cold War era nautical prowess.
The SS United States is the largest passenger ship ever produced in the US. It can keep pace with a modern day cruse ships top speed going in reverse.
It still holds records for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic and could reach 50 MPH.
There are currently efforts underway to restore the ship, I really hope they can because I'd take this thing over a crowded jet any day. Go Wikipedia S.S. United States cause if you're on my blog, I know you've got some free time on your hands.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Abandoned Asylums = A Great Time

While working in Worcester, MA I saw a particularly sinister looking building in the distance.  I've got a casual interest in old state hospitals, its not the most mainstream thing to be interested in, but its a whole lot better than being into anime or that goth shit.  
These old hospitals are a perfect mix of history, architecture and unpleasantness.  From the mid-1800s to the 1980s these complexes operated in various degrees of effectiveness.  Some were beneficial in treating people, others were basically prisons with doctors instead of wardens.  I just like snooping around these places when I run across one, as they are few and far between.  
A few of the older buildings were being saved but the majority have been leveled, a creepy toothless security guard told me they were preserving some of the complex but had no funding to fix anything.  
Next door to the original state hospital is the "new" complex built in the 1950s.  I stayed away because it was in full operation and teeming with residents.  

VERMONT: not just coffee houses and communes

Nestled between New York and New Hampshire is a place where Subarus are plentiful and the radios never leave NPR.  A place where entire towns economies are based on quaintness and will lose a sizable amount of the population when Phish goes back on tour.  From covered bridges to food co-ops... this is Vermont
The towns are a mix of quaint and trendy with oddball shops, locally brewed beers, and a market saturation of bookstores.  In these towns you find a surprising number of twenty-somethings who divide their time between the plentiful bookstores and the overabundance off coffee shops.  God forbid anyone actually works for a living.  
I had to meet with building inspectors in 6 rural offices surrounding Brattleboro.  To keep with the image of quaint small living, these offices keep antiquated hours they rarely agree to stick to.  Open 10-2 except for Wednesday when its 7-9, except during maple syrup season when its by appointment only keeping in mind they're closed on the 2nd Tuesday of each month and that hours can get adjusted for apple cider pressing season.  
This mess kept me driving around for two days of data collection and cursing to myself.  This was followed by a day of trying to find new constructions hidden in the rolling hills of Windham County.  This is honestly a beautiful place, but its damn near impossible to accomplish anything in a hurry. Especially when you're in a state where beard growing and bench sitting are local pastimes.  
My hotel was a restored 1930s Art Deco building with old movie theater and microbrewery attached.  It was really nice except for the shitty wifi and the death trap elevator.  If I unexpectedly had to lay low for a while to avoid serious jail time, I'd put Vermont top on my list.  

Friday, October 3, 2008

Niagara Falls

A classic tourist trap but still definitely worth checking out.  It was a little out of the way but with free corporate gas and no social life I'm down for whatever.  $13 gets you a walk out on a viewing platform and a ride into the falls on a one foot in the grave ferry overfilled with foreign tourists.  Boats like these get overloaded and sink in developing countries all the time.

The US side of the falls was pretty basic, the Canadian side had been turned into a mini-Vegas, complete with a fake space needle. 
I'm no stranger to a fake space needle, during my work in Las Vegas my hotel had a pretty good view of this.
My Pacific Northwest trip last October introduced me to the genuine article in Seattle.  Honestly though, these things are kinda a waste.  All they're good for is spicing up a skyline, my vote goes to the Stratosphere in Vegas, at least that one is a casino.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A week in Boston

This the type of town I could spend a few days in, 
Boston the city that keeps the roof blazin...

Will Smith lyrics aside, Boston has impressed me to be one hell of a town.  Back in July of 2007 Boston was my very first Nielsen business trip, and I hated this place.  I blame that entirely on bad traffic and NHTI.  The bad traffic is still here, but this maintenance assignment is turning out to be some real cupcake work.  NHTI was a unbearable project for the hispanic TV networks, maintenance is basically spending a day driving to Cape Cod to make sure an apartment building is still there.  
The hotel was North of the city in Woburn, but with a commuter rail line next door I'm pleased to report logistics did not get in the way of a drunken good time.  A coworker had some friends who lived in the Boston area.  This really helped get a local perspective on the area.  Everything from good bars, the finest in local dining, and even an awkward house party full of stereotypical New England WASPs.  
Marshfield, MA is south of Boston and was a delightfully easy assignment.  The tide pools at low tide are full of small fish that spend the day hiding from seagulls. 
Mike hitting rock bottom...
The plunger tells the story better than I ever could, hope to Christ he doesn't check my blog...